Senn, Frank C. "Chapter Seven: The Real Presence and the Sacrifice of the Mass." Christian Liturgy: Catholic and Evangelical. Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1997, 240-263.
Senn considers the philosophical developments of the later Middle Ages to have driven the changes in the outlook on the Mass, as European culture took on a more empirical way of thinking about life (Senn 1997, 240). The move, in Senn's opinion, was to say that what is visible is what is real (Senn 1997, 244). What was spiritual took on the connotation of being not real.
Because of the emphasis on the concrete or that which is real, discussions arose as to exactly when the bread and wine became the body and blood of Christ (Senn 1997, 243). Cyril of Jerusalem, Chrysostom, Theodore of Mopsuestia, Ambrose of Milan, and Augustine all assigned particular points during the consecration when the change took place (Senn 1997, 243-245). By the late Middle Ages, Senn finds the view that it is only by Christ's words that the body and blood are present. Ritual movements grew up around the altar and the time of consecration, pointing to the real Christ arriving on the altar (Senn 1997, 246).
Senn takes the issue of the real presence to have become prominent in the late Middle Ages because of a change in categories. In Classical Antiquity a "sign" or "figure" could be thought of as a very real thing, while by the Carolingian period it no longer held that connotation (Senn 1997, 248). Therefore, theologians felt the need to ask when the reality appeared. Senn describes a number of these theological formulations in some detail.
An important element of the discussion was whether God's Word could change one thing into something else. This question was central to the debate concerning transubstantiation (Senn 1997, 251). While some views of transubstantiation were limited to an internal change of the essence of the elements, others went farther and took the consecration to be an act in which the priest was a partner with Christ. Sasse, for instance, found the former acceptable but not the latter (Senn 1997, 252).
The nature of eucharist as sacrifice was considered of less importance in the late Middle Ages. Attention was focused on the consecration, which, in many opinions, was a sacrifice, especially as we consider the parallels between the two terms (Senn 1997, 253). The crux of the question lay in whether the act at the altar was a "liturgical reactualization" or a "dramatic portrayal" of Christ's once-for-all sacrifice (Senn 1997, 254). The language used is difficult, in English as in Latin, since there is some ambiguity, for instance, in the meaning of the word "represent." It may indicate presenting something again or bringing something to mind, a world of difference when speaking of the eucharist. On the one side, articulated by Gabriel Biel and Cardinal Cajetan, in the eucharist there is a ritual presentation in which Christ, truly present, ministers to His people (Senn 1997, 256ff). Senn unpacks the idea at some length. The eventual outcome of the argument was a view of the eucharist as a commemoration or a re-enactment of the sacrifice of Christ, neither of which views, in Luther's estimation, adequately represented coherence with the Scripture and the Church Fathers (Senn 1997, 262).